Republicans roll out the red carpet for Roy Moore

The Alabama Republican is no longer in the dog house

By Sophia Tesfaye

Published December 4, 2017 1:33PM (EST)

Roy Moore (Getty/Scott Olson)
Roy Moore (Getty/Scott Olson)

The pseudo-hedging is over.

Republicans' painfully awkward tip-toeing around allegations of sexual molestation of teenage girls against GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore has seemingly ended — just like it ended for President Donald Trump. Less than a month after the first allegations were made public, the controversial Alabama Republican is sitting pretty atop the polls and just won a crucial public endorsement from Trump. Republicans have successfully normalized the candidacy of an accused pedophile.

"Judge Moore just got off the phone with President Trump-we have his full support! Thank you Mr. President! Let’s MAGA," Moore’s wife, Kayla, wrote on Facebook Monday morning, shortly after Trump tweeted his support for the Christian fundamentalist. According to Moore’s campaign, the president encouraged Moore to "go get 'em, Roy," and called the judge a "fighter." 

Thrown off the Alabama Supreme Court twice for refusing to comply with the law, Moore’s refusal to drop out of the Dec. 12 election eventually led to a subsequent polling rebound in what is arguably the most Republican state in the country. A new poll published by CBS News over the weekend found 71 percent of Alabama Republicans believe the allegations of misconduct against Moore are completely false.

Doubling down on the spinelessness they exhibited during Trump’s candidacy, GOP leaders have since backed off their calls for Moore to drop out of the race.

"I'm going to let the people of Alabama make the call," Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday. McConnell was roundly lauded only weeks ago for greeting accounts of molestation from a then 14-year-old girl and sexual assault from a woman who said she was 16 years old when Moore attacked her, with a statement declaring: “I believe the women.”

Following Trump’s lead, Moore’s campaign has sought to discredit his accusers. In an interview with the conservative Weekly Standard, Moore campaign chairman Bill Armistead said Corfman was “a problem child” at the time of the custody hearing where she encountered a 32-year-old Moore. Corfman is a lifelong Republican who voted for Trump.

The campaign has worked wonders. Republicans leaders have moved from the uncomfortable, "if the allegations are true he should drop out" stance to, "we need Republican Roy Moore to win tax cuts," in a matter of weeks. Never mind the great likelihood that the GOP’s tax cuts will already be law by the time Moore is sworn into office, should he win his race.

So far, only the retiring Republicans have been willing to be so bold in their condemnation of Moore, who has built his entire political career targeting the LGBT community and has staked his current campaign on a radical anti-choice agenda.

"Even before these reports surfaced, Roy Moore's nomination was a bridge too far," Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., tweeted Friday.

"The Ethics Committee will have to have to consider the matters that have been litigated in the campaign, should that particular candidate win," McConnell said Sunday.

Too late. Republicans looked the other way for accused sexual assaulter Donald Trump, and now they are practically rolling out the red carpet for accused child molester Roy Moore.

Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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